1 Thess 4:13-18
What happens when a Christian dies? It’s a discussion that is highly debated by some, and for others we would rather not talk about it at all. Death is like a rippling wave that hits families and friends, when you least expect it. Reason being! We don’t know what tomorrow brings and the weight of death plays heavy on the soul of everyone, which in the end grieves the heart. But as Charles Spurgeon said “Tears are permitted to us, but they must glisten in the light of faith and hope.” Do you realize that there is a 99% chance that you will die at some point in this life; unless the the events in this text happen during your life, then you are of the 1 percent? There is approximately 150 000 people who die each and every day around the globe!!! Death is a very serious matter for every one of us. Why? Because we all are going to face it at some time point in our life. This was the problem with this early church.......they thought the time was coming for only those who lived to meet the Lord in the air. They were concerned for those who passed on before this extraordinary event took place! They were also confused by some who were teaching something contrary to what Paul told them about! (Turn over to 2 Thess 2:1-7)........
This was happening even in Peter’s ministry!! “They will say, "Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation." 2 Peter 3:4. Paul says “I do not want you to be ignorant (uniformed about spiritual realities, your lack of information) brethren” (v13) What are we in fear of being ignorant of Paul? “Those who have fallen asleep”. Asleep (refers to) believers who had died or past on…it’s a euphemism, a way to be more gentle in nature, instead of bluntly saying “those who are dead” Stephen is a prime example of this kind of language “And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” Act 7:60. IT’S IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER: In the New Testament “sleep” applies ONLY to the body.....never the soul or spirit. We have still today many good intentional people who think that the body goes into some state of soul sleep!
Soul Sleep is a false teaching! Because they teach, that souls of the dead are in a state of unconscious existence in the afterlife!! But that’s NOT TRUE! The bible is very clear that every person both believer and none believer has an eternal consciousness. In other words, there will never be a time when a person ceases to exist to be conscious of his or her existence. See, the theory of soul sleep is inconsistent with Paul's teachings. “For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.” 1 Thess 5:9-10. The Bible also says in 2Cor 5:8 “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” Phil1:22-23 says“But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.” The greatest of evidence that makes this a false teaching is what Jesus said to the thief on the cross in Luke 23:43 “And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise." Moses and Elijah souls were not sleeping when they appeared with Jesus on the Mount of transfiguration in Matthew 17:3. David spoke of the bliss of being in God’s presence after death in Psalm 16:10-11. Elijah was taken up into Heaven 2 Kings 2:1.Jesus even said He went to the Father the day He died in Luke 23:46. Even the unsaved know there is no such thing as soul sleeping Luke 16:19-31 the Rich man and Lazarus.
Paul says don’t be misinformed to what happen to a person after they die. He even goes on to say don’t grieve over or worry for those who have died. Look in (v13) “don’t grieve” as others who have no hope! The unsaved world.....“Grieve” means to feel pain, of body or mind and so to experience severe mental or emotional distress. It can also refer to physical pain which may be accompanied by sadness, sorrow or grief. This was not just over their temporal loss of believing loved ones; rather they feared that those who failed to live until the coming of Christ would be at a permanent disadvantage at His return. But again as Jesus said "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise." The Bible says Jesus grieved over the death of Lazarus in John 11:33-35, because He saw so many people living without hope after death. Again, Paul says don’t grieve as the unsaved world grieves, a people “Without hope!” What is that Hope that they are missing!! The Lord Jesus Christ....for without Him we have no hope after death! It’s that uncontrollable hopelessness that person has because the person they love is never coming back! WATCH THE NEWS and see for yourself the wailing and uncontrollable emotions of the unsaved world….the Middle East, Nepal, a young man shot in the street. If you don’t believe me! Go to a funeral of a saved person, and then one of an unsaved person! Compare the two and watch the people around you and see how they deal with death. The Christian's unique hope that is not shared by non-believers is the Blessed Hope. Sadly ignorance to the blessing that flow from gospel truth, only leads to confusion, worry and frustration to so many people today as they face death themselves. And Paul says don’t grieve as though you never had any hope!! Remember what I told you!! Look at (verse 14-15) We have the evidence of our Lord Jesus Christ who came and died a sinner’s death and rose again on the 3rd day!!! In 2Cor 5:21 we read “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Jesus died a literal death and He defeated the grave so that we could have a living hope in a living Saviour!!!
Can I tell you something that I hope encourages your heart this morning! We serve a living God......who is our living hope “by whose stripes you were healed.” 1 Peter 2:24. He rose again so those who have died (fallen asleep) will not miss the Rapture. Why? Look what Paul says at the end of (verse 15)“They will by no means precede those who are asleep” Precede means: “anticipate or prevent” Those who die before the Rapture will in no sense be inferior to those who are alive. All Christians will participate in the Rapture. So don’t grieve and have doubt to the Lord’s return, for those who have died before us....Trust in the words of our Lord because He is the One who gave them to me...His words are honest and trustworthy. Trust me! When that day arrives we will know!! Look at (verse 16-17). Jesus is the One who will call us to Himself......”the Lord Himself” Can you imagine for a minute what that will be like on that day! God’s divine appointment with His children who are in Christ.mHow? The Bible says “with a “shout of an arc angel”. There are only 2 other occasions where read Jesu shouted with a loud voice! The resurrection of Lazarus “Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth!" John 11:443. The Cross “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?" Matt 27:46. Matthews Gospel even went on to say “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; Matt 27:50-52. The power of almighty God spoke with authority and even the dead rose on that day!The same power we see here (v16-v17) which would make this the 3rd occasion Jesus spoke with a loud voice
Jesus calls us home with the sound of an archangel
- It’s the quality of His voice
- As a commander, as a chief
- The voice of authority, majestic....the power of almighty God
- What will it sound like? “The sounds of a trumpet”...His voice will be like a trumpet.
John on the Island of Patmos penned these words….. Rev 1:10-11“I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, Who was that voice? The Lord Jesus, Himself......saying "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last," . Jesus will speak with a loud audible voice as if the sound of a loud trumpet to call His chosen people to Himself. We call this the RAPTURE of believers......Rapture (means) caught up, a gathering together. According to the bible there is only two occasions where man has been raptured. Once with Enoch and the other time with Elijah. God raptured Enoch before His divine judgement came upon the earth. Gen 5:24. God raptured Elijah bodily and went up by a whirlwind into Heaven 2 Kings 2:11. Now, the biblical evidence tends to go to the side of the Pre-Trib Camp, otherwise their sorrow is pointless for those who have fallen asleep. As one writer said “deliverance from the tribulation before it starts agrees with God’s previous dealings with Noah and Lot.” Yes as Christians, we will have trials, heartache, disease, tribulations, famines, natural disasters; some might even face death and persecution from man…but this is nothing in comparison to the judgement of God with the unsaved masses when the church is removed from this earth during the tribulation period. But I’m not here to solve the dispute between the Pre and Post Trib camps. One thing all Eschatology groups can agree on………. is that Jesus promises the dead in Christ, will be raised first (v16). Then the ones who are alive at that time will be caught up with them in the air (verse 17). The point where our glorified bodies will join our glorified spirits which makes them into the image of Christ! John said “We know that when he appears, we will be like Him......” 1 John 3:2. So trust in the promises of God and remember what Jesus said "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:1-3. What happens when a Christian dies before or after the meeting the air? Eternal joy and peace that is secured in the Saviours blood. Promises that cannot be taken away by anyone, because they are sealed in the promises of the finished work found in the gospel.
MY SUNDAY QUESTION IS: Are you excited for that day? Does your heart anticipate the Lord’s imminent return...... to claim what is rightfully His? If not! Get close to someone who is!!! Find comfort in a brother or sister who patiently waits with joy in their heart for the Lord to call us home. Whether it is by life or death! We will be together one day!! Paul says comfort one another with these truths of God not man!!! (Verse 18)Don’t worry or grieve of those who have died in Christ........ nothing can separate us with is in Christ Jesus our Lord "When the time comes for you to die, you need not be afraid, because death cannot separate you from God's love." Charles Spurgeon. God’s promises about tomorrow give us hope for how we face today, tomorrow and the future. Tattoo this promise on your forehead! “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom 8:38-39. So comfort one another with these words of truth. Rest with ease knowing that God has everything taken care of for those who love him and those who anticipate His imminent return to claim what’s His........YOU!!